In the summer of 2009, Americans by the hundreds of thousands poured into townhall meetings across America to ask their elected officials in Congress hard questions about ObamaCare. Those citizens were quickly dismissed by the media, academia and the Left as “Astroturf activists.” They were told they were fakes. Phonies. Or Fugazis, as my Italian friends in Jersey would say.
I know something about those Astroturf activists. At Salem Radio Newtork, which syndicates some of the biggest talk radio personalities in America (Bill Bennett, Hugh Hewitt, Mike Gallagher, Michael Medved and Dennis Prager), we call those Astroturf activists our audience.
In September of 2009, on that historic day when President Obama took his message on health care to a joint session of Congress, we delivered to Capitol Hill the largest public policy petition in American history. Along with our great partners at The National Center for Policy Analysis, we handed then House Minority Leader John Boehner over 1.3 million names in boxes that could have filled several FEMA trailers.
What we at Salem knew was a simple ontological fact: those “asrtoturf activists” were real. Very real. And what happened to those members of Congress who supported that bill, especially those moderate Blue Dog Democrats, was very real. Their jobs are very gone.
And so we now flash forward to Madison, Wisconsin, and the 40,000 protestors on those streets. Who are they and where did they come from? What interests do they represent, and why does the whole thing have the feel of a bad 1930s WPA play?
We know that many of those protestors are teachers, many of whom decided to take an early spring break – on the taxpayer’s dime - to protest the idea of having to contribute some more money to their pensions and health care rather than face severe layoffs.
We also know that Madison is a college town, and college kids never miss an opportunity to blow off some classes to support some worthy liberal cause. There are probably some professors there too, because they know that somewhere down the road, someone like Governor Walker might just start looking at their benefits, too. And union goodies like tenure.
And thanks to a Politico report, we now know that Organizing for America (O.F.A) and the Democrat Party have been hard at work supporting this protest. Ben Smith wrote this on February 17:
O.f.A Wisconsin's field efforts include filling buses and building turnout for the rallies this week in Madison, organizing 15 rapid response phone banks urging supporters to call their state legislators, and working on planning and producing rallies, a Democratic Party official in Washington said.